Back in Washington after a two week journey, first to Kuai (in Hawaii) for the wedding of my first cousin (once removed), which was my seventh and most likely final officiating role. Then Embry and I headed back to the East Coast where our grandson, Jasper Ellis, graduated from Casco Bay High School in Portland ME. This was a great journey, which involved seven different flights, six time zone changes each way and remarkably no disasters. For a change every flight was on time.
The two events were special. My cousin, Jackson Cole, married Tori Nakamatsu, who grew up on the island. They had met in college in Seattle where they still live. The guests at the wedding were a mix of Anglos, mostly from Nashville (mainly family) and Hawaiians from Kuai. The event was fabulous: gorgeous bride, handsome groom, warm and loving friends and families. The weather was perfect, and the venue was in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet Earth.
The rehearsal dinner attended by about 40 people was in a public park overlooking the Pacific with food provided by a food truck. To get to the wedding rehearsal, you had to walk past several five-star resorts with Mercedes lined up to accommodate the rich and famous from all over the world, many attending their glamourous destination weddings. Guards could be seen protecting the resorts to keep out the riffraff.
I was so glad that this wedding event was in a park—not in a resort– with locals gathered around tables nearby with kids kicking soccer balls and playing Frisbee.
There were about twice as many attending the wedding the next day on an old plantation available only for use by native Hawaiians and also overlooking the ocean. Fabulous music by a guitarist not much younger than me followed (playing mostly 60s rock and roll music) under a big tent where the wedding reception and feast occurred. The event was magical.
The only glitch was that I had failed to fill out all the paperwork that the state requires from the officiant. In fact, I was not aware that any paperwork from me was required other than signing the marriage license. On my six previous weddings I never filled out anything except to provide bona fide evidence of being an ordained minister, which, of course, I am along with millions of other Universal Life Ministers.
A few days ago, however—over two weeks after the wedding– I got an email from Jackson politely informing me that someone from the state had determined the marriage was not legal because the officiant had failed to fill out the forms within the required five day period following the wedding. To be legal the wedding would have to be repeated in Hawaii—this time with all the forms properly filled out. When the notice from the state was received, Jackson and Tori were back in Seattle and we were back in Washington, plus repeating any wedding—especially one as special as this—would be a non-starter for anyone. What to do…?
I expressed my astonishment and dismay via email to my cousin, apologized, and said I would try to do what I could to satisfy their requirements without having to repeat the wedding in Kuai. Within minutes his email reply came: “Hey, Joe, no problem. We are having a reception in Seattle anyway. We will just get remarried there when we have the reception.”
Not exactly the way I would like to see my marriage officiating career come to an end, but a wedding experience is spiritual as well as it is legal, and that is what counts. There is nothing the state of Hawaii can do to take the spiritual part away. (And thank heavens for the reception opportunity in Seattle!)
Our grandson’s graduation was also special—and quite unusual. Stay tuned for the next blog post.